Tag Archives: secular

Jewish court sentences dog to death by stoning

(AFP) – JERUSALEM — A Jerusalem rabbinical court condemned to death by stoning a dog it suspects is the reincarnation of a secular lawyer who insulted the court’s judges 20 years ago, Ynet website reported Friday.

According to Ynet, the large dog made its way into the Monetary Affairs Court in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, frightening judges and plaintiffs.

Despite attempts to drive the dog out of the court, the hound refused to leave the premises.

One of the sitting judges then recalled a curse the court had passed down upon a secular lawyer who had insulted the judges two decades previously.

Their preferred divine retribution was for the lawyer’s spirit to move into the body of a dog, an animal considered impure by traditional Judaism.

Clearly still offended, one of the judges sentenced the animal to death by stoning by local children.

The canine target, however, managed to escape.

“Let the Animals Live”, an animal-welfare organisation filed a complaint with the police against the head of the court, Rabbi Avraham Dov Levin, who denied that the judges had called for the dog’s stoning, Ynet reported.

One of the court’s managers, however, confirmed the report of the lapidation sentence to Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot.

“It was ordered… as an appropriate way to ‘get back at’ the spirit which entered the poor dog,” the paper reported the manager as saying, according to Ynet.

Certain schools of thought within Judaism believe in the transmigration of souls, or reincarnation.

Courtesy: AFP, Google News

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gpVCUh9KzOc5uEutaeYfOTL_m2dw?docId=CNG.7cb7d99990eea60a7a2805cbbc294dbf.631

Pakistan’s ‘secret’ war

Author: Karlos Zurutuza, Balochistan
Editor: Rob Mudge

Excerpt:

Armed groups of Balochs in southwest Pakistan are gaining momentum at a critical point for the country’s future. Deutsche Welle looks at the phenomenon which presents yet another problem in the troubled region.

A province marked by floods and images of burned-out NATO tankers, Balochistan is the land of the Baloch, who today see their country in southwest Asia divided by the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Balochistan is the size of France and boasts enormous reserves of gas, gold and copper, as well as untapped sources of oil and uranium. The exploitation of these natural resources in combination with repressive and discriminatory state-run policies have led to armed uprisings in the region.

In his book “Descent into Chaos,” best-selling writer and renowned Afghanistan commentator, Ahmed Rashid, says that the Baloch have instigated five insurgent uprisings to date. These insurgents take shelter in the rugged mountains of southern Pakistan and across the border, in Afghanistan.

The Baloch insurgents in Pakistan are fragmented into several groups: the BLA (Baloch Liberation Army), the BRA (Baloch Republican Army), the BLF (Baloch Liberation Front) and Lashkar-e Balochistan (Balochistan’s army). Several analysts say this fragmentation reflects the tribal element among the Baloch. Accordingly, the BLA, BRA and Lashkar-e Balochistan are led by the local main clans of the Marris, the Bugtis and the Mengals respectively, while the BLF is a more heterogeneous movement.

Despite the apparent fracture, all these groups are markedly secular movements – at odds with the Taliban – who share a common agenda focusing on the independence of Balochistan. They organize their actions around guerrilla attacks, primarily against military targets and government infrastructures like gas pipelines.

Growing discontent

“Given that parliamentary politics is a fake option for us, we are forced to make politics with weapons. Since the partition of India in 1947, we have had to chose between slavery and death,” Khair Bux Marri told Deutsche Welle from his residence in Karachi. The 90-year old Marri is the leader of the biggest Baloch tribe. His life-long struggle against Pakistan has taken him from years of exile in Afghanistan to terms in Pakistani prisons.

His son, Balaach Marri, led the BLA and was killed in 2007 by the Pakistani army. The portrait of this guerrilla leader, wearing a Baloch cap and holding an assault rifle, is almost ubiquitous in Pakistani-controlled Balochistan and can often be spotted alongside Hayrbyar’s, his younger brother, also considered to be a “national hero” by many Baloch.

From his London exile, Hayrbyar Marri calls for the independence of Balochistan and defends the right of “self defence” by his people. When asked about a possible dialogue with Islamabad, he is categorical. “There’s only one thing to negotiate with Islamabad and that’s the immediate pull-out of their occupation troops,” he told Deutsche Welle from his house in London. ….

Harrison also said that the Baloch insurgency in Pakistan enjoys sympathies in the neighboring Sindh province which, according to the journalist, “has brought back the ancient dream of a state or a Sindhi-Balochistan federation extending along the Arabian Sea, from Iran to India.”

Read more: Deutsche Welle

Babar Ayaz: reality check?

ROVER’S DIARY: Is it a blind spot or blindness to reality?

by Babar Ayaz

Excerpt:

While the military is selectively fighting the terrorist organisations and thousands of our security personnel have been martyred, they have not challenged the ideology of jihad. Thousands of mosques, madrassas and religious organisations are preaching jihad against the west and its allied governments in the Muslim countries

Terrorists who attacked the PNS Mehran on May 22 knew the ‘security blind spot’. At least that is what the Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the media soon after the operation. Further follow-up reports confirmed his observation. Now the entire media is asking how the terrorists knew about this ‘blind spot’.

The obvious conclusion is that the terrorists have some sympathisers inside the forces. This suspicion is further corroborated by the fact that the routes and timings of the naval buses, which came under attack a month ago, were seemingly also compromised by some insiders. The attackers on GHQ also had insiders with them. Musharraf’s assassination attempts were also done with insiders’ help. Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by his guard, abetted by his colleagues. So there is not one blind spot we are talking about. It seems that many people among our security establishment, politicians and journalists are ‘blind’ to the bigger reality. ….

…. A question can be asked here that if we were wrong to wage war against Afghanistan jointly with the US in the 1980s, then how are we right now to side with Washington’s war in Afghanistan? We should remember that Najibullah’s government survived about three years after the Soviet forces left. But we were the ones who trained and funded the Taliban to take over the government. We opposed the Afghan government, which wanted to turn its country into a modern democratic state, and imposed a Taliban government, which could only give them primitive medievalism.

And when it came to choosing sides, the same protégé Taliban government sacrificed relations with Pakistan and the future of Afghans to save Osama — a champion of a permanent Islamic revolution. We then started playing the double game and gave protection to the Taliban who are till today intruding into Afghanistan. They are the cause of the drone attacks. Sir, you remove them, these attacks will stop.

We continue to dangerously mix religion with politics. The Pakistani establishment also started using jihadi organisations to destabilise India — a major mistake because it was bound to boomerang sooner than later. So the people who think that terrorism is because of drone attacks and our involvement in Afghanistan should not blindfold themselves with narrow nationalistic gauze. They should face the reality that Pakistan is undoubtedly directly and indirectly involved in terrorist activities in our neighbourhood, using the jihadi ideology. The same ideology has been turned by the terrorist groups into the belief that the Pakistani establishment is a renegade of the Islamic jihadi movement. The same ideology is providing the terrorists support from within our security establishment.

So what is to be done? The security establishment should shun the jihadi ideology and support to such groups, closely monitor that in the name of preaching Islam its rank and file is not indoctrinated with hate mongering, and purge the supporters of these organisations. The politicians should take the ideological challenge and develop a communication strategy scientifically to convince the people that the terrorists have declared war against Pakistanis using religion, and that we have to stand united for building a modern, democratic secular Pakistan. This is not a war against terrorism; it is defending Pakistanis from terrorism. Nothing short of that will work now.

To read complete article: Daily Times

BHRC (Canada) Protests in Toronto and Vancouver

Toronto, May 27, 2011 – Toronto and Vancouver chapters of Baloch Human Rights Council (Canada) staged demonstrations in front of the U.S. Consulates. …. The demonstrations held in Toronto and Vancouver, the two major cities of Canada, were jointly organized by Baloch Human Rights Council (Canada), International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (IVBMP), and the International Centre for Peace and Democracy (ICFPD). The participants in the demonstration came from all walks of life, particular the Baloch Diaspora, Kashmiris, Sindhis, and the progressive and secular elements in society.

Continue reading BHRC (Canada) Protests in Toronto and Vancouver

US Aid is being used to Kill Secular Balochs and Sindhis in Pakistan

– ‘US Aid is being used to Kill Secular Balochs and Sindhis in Pakistan’. Protesters Gathered in Front of Pakistan Consulate in Houston

Report by: Sikander Baloch

HOUSTON, MAY 27, 2011: Several dozens of Americans of Sindhi and Baloch origin gathered on Friday to protest in front of the Pakistan consul-general in Houston condemning …., Islamabad’s support to terrorist outfits and state terrorism against people of Balochistan and Sindh. The peaceful but vocal protest was held on Jones Road in front of the Pakistan Consulate in Houston.

Continue reading US Aid is being used to Kill Secular Balochs and Sindhis in Pakistan

Maududi: Islamisation Will Destroy Pakistan

Syed Farooq Haider, a son of Maulana Maududi. The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: The Express TV (Front Line with Kamran Shahid and Farooq Haider)

via Wichaar, YouTube

Baluchs present their Case To US Policy Advisors

By: Khalid Hashmani

The Balochistan Society of North America (BSO-NA) organized a conference titled Balochistan Conference 2011 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Saturday, August 30, 2011. The conference focused on key issues faced Baluch including “Balochistan’s Case and Prospects”, “Human Rights Violations in Balochistan”, “Baloch Target Killings and Genocide”, and “Geo-strategic Importance of Balochistan for Peace and Security in South Asia”.

Continue reading Baluchs present their Case To US Policy Advisors

Like army, like nation – by Nadeem F. Paracha

Excerpt:

The basic socio-political mindset of the Pakistani society is the outcome of various faith-based experiments conducted by the state and the armed forces.

The party

In 1995, sometime in May, an uncle of mine (an ex-army man), was invited to a party of sorts.

The invitation came from a former top-ranking military officer who had also worked for the Pakistan intelligence agency, the ISI. He was in the army with my uncle (who now resides abroad) during the 1960s.

My uncle, who was visiting Pakistan, asked if I was interested in going with him. I agreed.

The event was at a military officer’s posh bungalow in Karachi’s Clifton area. Most of the guests (if not all) were former military men. All were articulate, spoke fluent English and wore modern, western clothes.

I was not surprised by this but what did surprise me was a rather schizophrenic aura about the surroundings. Though modern-looking and modern-sounding, the gathering turned out to be a segregated affair.

The men’s wives were placed in a separate room, while the men gathered in a wider sitting area.

By now it become clear to me that I wouldn’t be getting served anything stronger than Pepsi on the rocks!

I scratched my head, thinking that even though I was at a ‘party’ in a posh, stylish bungalow in the posh, stylish Clifton area with all these posh stylish military men and their wives and yet, somehow I felt there very little that was ‘modern’ about the situation.

By modern, I also mean the thinking that was reflected by the male guests on politics, society and religion. Most of the men were also clean-shaven and reeking of expensive cologne, but even while talking about cars, horses and their vacations in Europe, they kept using Arabic expressions such as mashallah, alhamdullila, inshallah, etc.

I tried to strike up some political conversations with a few gentlemen but they expected me to agree with them about how civilian politicians were corrupt, how democracy can be a threat to Pakistan, how civilian leaders do not understand India’s nefarious designs, et al. …

The experiment

The Pakistan Army was once a staunchly secular beast. All across the 1950s and 1960s it was steeped in secular (albeit conservative) traditions and so were its sociological aspects.

In fact, until the late 1960s, Pakistani military men were asked to keep religion a private matter and religious exhibitionism was scorned at as well as reprimanded – mostly during Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s dictatorship (1959-69).

Continue reading Like army, like nation – by Nadeem F. Paracha

Interview with Pratap Mehta on Pakistan

Pratap Mehta: Pakistan’s Perpetual Identity Crisis

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a political theorist and intellectual historian based in New Delhi, is leading us through another reflection on the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan.

The reconsideration of partition is a critical, current existential question not only for South Asians, but also for Americans who watch the continuous outrages from Taliban and CIA sanctuaries inside Pakistan. It’s a question on many levels — terrorism, geopolitics, ethnicity and religion — but, Pratap Mehta says, “it’s fundamentally the question of the identity of a country.”

In his telling of the partition story, the contemporary reality of Pakistan grew out of a failure to answer a core challenge of creating a nation-state: how do you protect a minority? It’s Mehta’s view that the framers of the modern subcontinent — notably Gandhi, Jinnah & Nehru — never imagined a stable solution to this question. He blames two shortcomings of the political discourse at the time of India’s independence:

The first is that it was always assumed that the pull of religious identities in India is so deep that any conception of citizenship that fully detaches the idea of citizenship from religious identity is not going to be a tenable one.

The second is that Gandhi in particular, and the Congress Party in general, had a conception of India which was really a kind of federation of communities. So the Congress Party saw [the creation of India] as about friendship among a federation of communities, not as a project of liberating individuals from the burden of community identity to be whatever it is that they wished to be.

The other way of thinking about this, which is to think about a conception of citizenship where identities matter less to what political rights you have, that was never considered seriously as a political project. Perhaps that would have provided a much more ideologically coherent way of dealing with the challenges of creating a modern nation-state. – – Pratap Bhanu Mehta with Chris Lydon at the Watson Institute, April 12, 2011.

Unlike many other Open Source talkers on Pakistan, Pratap Mehta does not immediately link its Islamization to the United States and its1980s jihad against the Soviets. Reagan and his CIA-Mujahideen military complex were indeed powerful players in the rise of Islamic extremism in Pakistan, he agrees, but the turn began first during a national identity crisis precipitated by another partition, the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Suddenly, Mehta is telling us, Pakistan could no longer define itself as the unique homeland for Muslims in the subcontinent. In search of identity, and distinction from its new neighbor to the east, Pakistan turned towards a West Asian brand of Islam, the hardline Saudi Wahhabism that has become a definitive ideology in today’s Islamic extremism.

Mehta is hopeful, though, that in open democratic elections Islamic parties would remain relatively marginalized, that despite the push to convert Pakistan into a West Asian style Islamic state since 1971, “the cultural weight of it being a South Asian country” with a tradition of secular Islam “remains strong enough to be an antidote.”

Click here to listen Radio Open Source interview with Pratap Mehta, it is much more in depth than the text summary

Courtesy: http://www.radioopensource.org/pratap-mehta-pakistans-perpetual-identity-crisis/

“Burqa got a befitting French kiss” – by Marvi Sirmed

Before reading this argument on recent Burqa-ban by France, you need to know who I am. Raised in an orthodox Muslim Deobandi family, I’ve been educated in Pakistan’s Punjab where urban middle class used to be too sensitive about purdah in 1980s and 90s – the decades when I went to school and then university. Being first generation migrated out of the village in a big city, my father was a part of purdah sensitive educated middle class professional class. But my mother, raised and educated in a secular and Sufist Sindh, fought against Burqa throughout her life in order to save me from this ‘curse’ as she would put it.

Mom succeeded in this battle to the best of my luck and now no one expects her or me in Burqa or purdah in general. …

Read more : Let Us Build Pakistan

Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers

Britain is spending millions bolstering Pakistan, but it is a nation in thrall to radical Islam and is using its instability to blackmail the West

by Christina Lamb

When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?

While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?

As someone who has spent almost as much time in Pakistan as in Britain over the past 24 years, I feel particularly conflicted, as I have long argued we should be investing more in education there.

That there is a crisis in Pakistan’s education system is beyond doubt. A report out last month by the Pakistan education taskforce, a non-partisan body, shows that at least 7m children are not in school. Indeed, one-tenth of the world’s children not in school are in Pakistan. The first time I went to Pakistan in 1987 I was astonished to see that while billions of pounds’ worth of weapons from the West were going to Pakistan’s intelligence service to distribute to the Afghan mujaheddin, there was nothing for schools.

The Saudis filled the gap by opening religious schools, some of which became breeding grounds for militants and trained the Taliban. Cameron hopes that investing in secular education will provide Pakistan’s children with an alternative to radicalism and reduce the flow of young men who want to come and bomb the West.

“I would struggle to find a country that it is more in Britain’s interests to see progress and succeed than Pakistan,” he said. “If Pakistan is a success, we will have a good friend to trade with and deal with in the future … If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration and extremism that we don’t want to see.”

As the sixth most populous country, with an arsenal of between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons, as the base of both Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leadership, and as homeland to a large population in Britain, Pakistan is far more important to our security than Afghanistan. But after spending two weeks travelling in Pakistan last month, I feel the situation has gone far beyond anything that a long-term strategy of building schools and training teachers can hope to restrain.

The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington — its paymaster to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 10 years — is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California who sits on the House foreign affairs committee and has been dealing with Pakistan since working in the Reagan White House, says he now realises “they were playing us for suckers all along”.

“I used to be Pakistan’s best friend on the Hill but I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country to the US,” he said. “Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder and when you tie that with the realisation that they went ahead and used their scarce resources to build nuclear weapons, it is perhaps the most frightening of all the things that have been going on over the last few years.

“We were snookered. For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military. In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards and look western they fooled a lot of people.”

Christine Fair, assistant professor at the centre for peace and security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, is equally scathing. “Pakistan’s development strategy is to rent out its strategic scariness and not pay taxes itself,” she said. “We should let them fail.”The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, comes from one of Punjab’s largest land-owning families. Watching Cameron sign over the £650m, he said: “I think the root cause of terrorism and extremism is illiteracy. Therefore we are giving a lot of importance to education.”

If that were the case one might expect Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the most elite universities in the country, to be a bastion of liberalism. Yet in the physics department Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics, sits with his head in his hands staring out at a sea of burqas. “People used to imagine there was only a lunatic fringe in Pakistan society of these ultra-religious people,” he said. “Now we’re learning that this is not a fringe but a majority.”

What brought this home to him was the murder earlier this year of Salman Taseer, the half-British governor of Punjab who had called for the pardoning of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. The woman, Aasia Bibi, had been convicted after a mullah had accused her of impugning Islam when she shouted at two girls who refused to drink water after she had touched it because they said it was unclean.

Taseer had been a key figure in Pakistan’s politics for decades and had suffered prison and torture, yet when he said the Aasia case showed the law needed reforming, he was vilified by the mullahs and the media. In January he was shot 27 times by one of his own guards. His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in public.

After the killing, Hoodbhoy was asked to take part in a televised debate at the Islamabad Press Club in front of students. His fellow panellists were Farid Piracha, spokesman for the country’s biggest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Sialvi, a supposed moderate mullah from the Barelvi sect. Both began by saying that the governor brought the killing on himself, as “he who blasphemes his prophet shall be killed”. The students clapped.

Hoodbhoy then took the microphone. “Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed I managed to say that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan. I said I’m not an Islamic scholar but I know there are Muslim countries that don’t think the Koran says blasphemy carries the death sentence, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.

“I didn’t get a single clap. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said you have Salman Taseer’s blood on your hands, he looked at them and exclaimed: how I wish I had done it! He got thunderous applause.”

Afterwards, “I came back and wanted to dig a hole in the ground,” he said. “I can’t figure out why this country has gone so mad. I’ve seen my department change and change and change. There wasn’t one burqa-clad woman in the 1980s but today the non-hijabi, non-burqa student is an exception. As for the male students, they all come in turbans and beards with these fierce looks on their faces.”

Yet, he points out, these students are the super-elite, paying high fees to attend the university: “It’s nothing to do with causes normally associated with radicalism; it’s that the mullah is allowed complete freedom to spread the message of hate and liberals are bunkering down. Those who speak out are gone and the government has abdicated its responsibility and doesn’t even pretend to protect life and property.”

Raza Rumi, a young development worker and artist who blogs regularly, agrees. As we sat in a lively coffee bar in Lahore that could have been in the West until the lights went off in one of the frequent power cuts, he said: “Radicalism in Pakistan isn’t equated with poverty and backwardness — we’re seeing more radicalisation of the urban middle and upper class. I look at my own extended family. When I was growing up, maybe one or two people had a beard. Last time I went to a family wedding I was shell-shocked. All these uncles and aunts who were regular Pakistanis watching cricket and Indian movies now all have beards or are in hijabs.

“I think we’re in an existential crisis. The moderate political parties have taken a back seat and chickened out as they just want to protect their positions. What is Pakistan’s identity? Is it an Islamist identity as defined by Salman Taseer’s murder, ISI [the intelligence service], the jihadists? Is that really what we want to be?”

He does not know how much longer he will write about such things. “I’ve been getting repeated emails that I should leave the country or shut up,” he said.

When I left the cafe I was followed for the rest of the day by a small yellow car.

Courtesy: thesundaytimes.co.uk

Pakistan – Jinnah’s nightmare

Success and failure

By S. Akbar Zaidi

THE country which was considered to be a basket case in 1971, is today offering a mirror to others on how developing countries can become a development state and is being referred to as the `development surprise` of the 21st century.

At the same time, it has also ensured that democracy is developing as a strong and permanent alternative to military rule, under which it has had many years of painful repression.

That this overwhelmingly Muslim country is also constitutionally and increasingly in practice politically secular is also a lesson for other Muslim majoritarian countries to emulate. The Supreme Court struck down a 31-year-old constitutional amendment and restored the country to its founding status as a secular republic, banning the writings of some radical Islamic ideologues.

The country which in the mid-1960s was heralded as a role model for other developing countries, where the international press had praised its military-led development model no end, stating that it might just reach the levels of development achieved only by the United States, has just appeared as the world`s 10th most failed, or failing, state. On the course towards reaching this rather ignominious distinction, this country has also been called “the most dangerous place in the world”, and a “rogue state with a nuclear arsenal”.

Read more : DAWN

Communist Party of Egypt resumes open political activities

March 24, 2011 — People’s World — On March 15, the Communist Party of Egypt announced that after many years underground because of repression, it will be assuming open, public political activities once more. The announcement came after “an extensive meeting with all of its bodies” and was unanimous.

The original Communist Party of Egypt, the Hizb al Shuvuci al-Misri, had been founded in 1922 when Egypt was still a monarchy and very much under the thumb of British imperialism. The last king of Egypt, Farouk, was overthrown by an uprising of young army officers in 1952. Out of that revolution came the 14-year regime of Colonel Gamel Abdel Nasser, a radical nationalist who worked to break Egypt away from subservience to Western capitalist powers. In 1965, the Communist Party of Egypt merged into Nasser’s own movement, the Arab Socialist Union.

A number of former Communist Party activists dissented from this merger and formed their own independent journal, Al-Inisar (Victory), starting in 1973, which led to their re-founding the Communist Party in 1975. Under the governments of Anwar Al Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, the re-founded Communist Party of Egypt faced repression and was not allowed to run in elections. However, it did not disappear and did not abandon the struggle for democracy and socialism.

When the demonstrations against the Mubarak regime began earlier this year, the Communist Party of Egypt, working in unity with other left-wing dissident groups, quickly gained public visibility as a key voice in the secular opposition. Its February 1, 2011, proclamation read as follows. ….

Read more : Link International

States formed on the basis of religion can never survive a peaceful future (Bertrand Russell) e.g; Pakistan and Israel!

Pakistan’s identity war — II

By Saleem H Ali

What does it mean to be an Islamic state? Was there ever such an entity? Can modernity, as it pertains to developing a functional society in a globalised world, be realised within the context of a theocracy? These are fundamental questions which Pakistanis need to resolve, within this generation, in order for Pakistan to develop and reach its potential.

Pakistan shares the distinction, along with Israel, as being one of only two states to have been crafted, in the post-colonial worlds, on the basis of religion. In both cases enormous migrations were involved with questionable legitimacy for the migrants. The ‘muhajir’ identity continues to be perpetuated, as such, on this basis. The creation of both Israel and Pakistan present a perplexing paradox: Created on the basis of religion, their champions were largely secular individuals. The founders of Zionism as a political force, such as Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, were secular. So too were Pakistan’s founders, most notably the Quaid-i-Azam. I would argue that Ben Gurion and Jinnah made a dangerous bargain when it came to conflating cultural identity on the basis of religious adherence.

Pakistan and Israel — two states which don’t recognise each other diplomatically — are facing a similar radicalisation because of that initial crisis of identity which was never fully resolved. Theocratic forces are gaining power in both countries. …

Read more : The Express Tribune

THINKING ALOUD: The return of extreme ignorance and evil

THINKING ALOUD: The return of jahiliyah – Razi Azmi

With the known ‘infidels’ out of the way, religious fundamentalists needed new enemies to keep their fires stoked and their hateful hunger satiated. So they turned on themselves, creating a whole new set of heretics, apostates, blasphemers and infidels

At a time when enlightenment is seeping through the Islamic heartland in the Middle East, jahiliyah (stubborn arrogance) is taking Pakistan by the throat. If the founder of the country, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, were alive today, he would live in fear, like the millions of others who share his secular ideology.

Murderous thugs control the country in the name of Islam, from Khyber to Karachi and from Lahore to Lasbela. This is no accident; it has been a long time coming. The chain of actual events and the process of constitutional and mental regression that have led to this can be traced back to Pakistan’s beginnings.

Intolerance and bigotry first began to creep rather innocuously into Pakistan’s body politic with the passage of the Objectives Resolution under Liaquat Ali Khan. It gathered pace under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s politically expedient concessions to the Islamists. Ziaul Haq’s constitutional amendments and propaganda on the pretext of Islamisation turned it into a fearsome juggernaut. …

Read more : Daily Times

Forces of darkness, extremism and intolerance are on the rise in Pakistan. If not curtailed, these forces can soon be threatening the very existence of Pakistan?

Forces of extremism and intolerance are on the rise in Pakistan. If not curtailed, these forces can soon be threatening the very existence of the state. In this episode of Reporter, Arshad Sharif tries to understand if there can be any permanent solution to this problem, and whether the Bangladesh Model could be a possible solution. Guests: Nazar Mohammad Gondal (Former Federal Minister, PPP), Haroon Rasheed (Political Analyst/Columnist), Zafarullah Khan (Executive Director Centre for Civic Education) and Mushahidullah Khan (Senator, PML-N).

Courtesy: DAWN News (Reporter with Arshad Sharif)

via – ZemTVYou Tube

Sindh calls for separation of mosque and state

Call for separation of religion from state

SINDH – HYDERABAD, Feb 20: Leaders of nationalist and left-wing parties and prominent poets and writers have called for concrete efforts to curb fundamentalism and demanded separation of religion from state and equal rights for minorities.

Speaking at a seminar on ‘Religious extremism and black laws of Zia’s regime’ organised by the “Left Unity” at the press club here on Sunday, they stressed the need for a united front comprising all secular, nationalist and progressive forces for combating fundamentalism and promoting secularism.

Renowned intellectual Mohammad Ibrahim Joyo said that after independence the Quaid-i-Azam had unequivocally declared that religion would be the personal concern of the individual and every citizen of Pakistan would have equal rights. But successive governments in the country violated this principle.

Mr Joyo called upon the working class and oppressed people to unite to protect their rights.

He said Sindhis, Balochs and Pakhtuns were oppressed nations. He said that not only “black laws of the Zia regime” but all discriminatory laws should be repealed.

Left Unity secretary Buxal Thallo said that religious extremism was a threat for the country’s progress and called upon all political parties to launch a joint struggle against fundamentalism. …

Read more : DAWN

What uprisings give rise to – Dr Manzur Ejaz

The Egyptian army is no different than its counterparts in the developing countries. After a peace treaty with Israel, the Egyptian army’s sole function was to maintain a corrupt and unjust economic system in which a small section of society owned most of the national wealth. As time goes by, the Egyptian military’s obstructive role will become clearer

Many Pakistanis have been wistfully looking towards the Tahrir Square uprising and questioning why the same cannot be done in Pakistan. These uprisings have happened many times in Pakistan, whereby army dictators were forced out of power by popular movements of one kind or the other. However, the people did not experience any improvement in their living conditions or even civil liberties during democratic periods. By now they are disillusioned and do not know against whom they should rise.

The Ayub Khan era was not as long as Hosni Mubarak’s but the democratic rights in Egypt were almost the same as those in Pakistan of that time. Ayub Khan was secular and an enemy of the Jamaat-e-Islami like Hosni Mubarak was against the Muslim Brotherhood. Up until 1967, Ayub Khan had such a strong grip on Pakistan that it appeared as if his family would rule for generations just like a few months back, Hosni Mubarak’s son seemed all prepared to take over Egypt by the next elections. However, a small incident in Rawalpindi Polytechnic Institute, in which some students were killed, triggered such a popular movement that Ayub Khan was out in a few months. In a way that incident was not unique because the then Governor of West Pakistan, Amir Mohammad Khan, the Nawab of Kalabagh, was notorious for his repressive techniques. However, the masses were fed up with Ayub Khan’s rule and a mammoth movement was born in both parts of the country. Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the leading forces in East and West Pakistan respectively.

The people who had seen massive crowds on both sides of the GT Road, from Rawalpindi to Multan — making a human chain of hundreds of miles — would agree that the scene was not any less impressive than what we have seen in Tahrir Square in the last few weeks. Just like in the Egyptian uprising, the political environment was so tolerant and non-discriminatory that several Ahmedis were elected to the provincial and national assemblies. In short, what we are seeing in Egypt now did happen in Pakistan some 40 years back.

Now, if we skip the details of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) against Ziaul Haq, which brought back the PPP and PML-N, and jump to the 2007 movement for an independent judiciary, we see another Tahrir Square-style uprising. Once again, the people turned the GT Road into a Tahrir Square as Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s motorcade made its way to Faisalabad/Lahore from Rawalpindi in 24 hours. Once again, the people’s movement forced General Musharraf to quit power and run away from the country. But what did people get from the democracy they struggled for so many times?

In a way, the Egyptian uprising for democracy was not as mature as Pakistani democratic movements. …

Read more : Wichaar

Pakistan : Religious zealots and political Islam – Dr Manzur Ejaz

The assault by religious zealots has now been undertaken by the Sunni Tehreek. The transformation of this otherwise peaceful group of Muslims shows how deep an effect the religious right-wing has had in radicalising all other religious parties and sects. Now, it can be safely said that there is no tolerant Islamic sect among Pakistani Muslims.

It seems that the movement for Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (TNR) has become a source of political power for the mullahs. As expected, wherever there is power, there are contenders for the throne. Thus, the intense competition between the mullahs has begun and it is in fact a stampede under which Pakistan is being brutalised and crushed.

The prime mover of the TNR is the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the mother of most theocratic and extremist religious trends. Presently, the JI is competing for influence for itself versus Fazlur Rehman but that is its secondary goal; the main goal is political power. For the JI, the TNR is a vehicle to keep religious parties united and to slowly dismantle what is left of the secular institutions of the state. The Taliban and other jihadi groups fit very well in its strategy to undo the system. Therefore, while the Taliban and other jihadis keep the state engaged with guns, the JI provides a political cover to them with rhetoric. The ‘Free Aafia Siddiqui’ and TNR movements are just political covers masterfully orchestrated by the JI. …

Read more : Wichaar

Ram Jethmalani, the former Law Minister & Chairman of Bar Associations of India is proud on the Secular Sufi values of Sindh

Ram Jethmalani, was born September 14, 1923, in Shikharpur, Sindh (now in Pakistan)) is an eminent Indian lawyer and politician. He spoke about Sindh & Jinnah. He said that “When Jinnah qualified for the Bar, he came to Karachi to practice. Jinnah belonged to the community of Khojas who were rich merchants and he expected to have a ready-made clientele in Karachi, Sindh. He (Jinnah) went to a firm of Hindu lawyers in Hyderabad called Harichandra and Co., Old Harichandra had interviewed him and once he said that he was perfectly qualified to practice, they had to settle the terms. Jinnah wanted hundred rupees, but the old Hindu miser was unwilling to go above seventy-five. I have always said, even in public, that Jinnah was not the cause of India’s partition, but that old Hindu miser.”

Ram Jethmalani also spoke about Sindh being the cradle of Sufism, the gentlest and finest of the fine form of Islam. He said that it was synonymous with the Kashmiriyat of Kashmir. Shah Abdul Latif, one of the greatest poets, was a product of Sindh. “We had developed a great synthesis between the two communities, that as a Hindu youngster, I would get my new clothes on Eid (a Muslim festival) and Muslin youngsters would get their clothes on Deepavali ( a Hindu festival). Even when Partition had happened, and hundreds of thousands of people were getting killed in Punjab, but the Sindhi Muslim never killed a single Hindu.”

“Speaking for myself, for the sake of safety, I had brought my family to Bombay, but I had gone back to Sindh and continued my practice in the hope that things would become normal. I stayed till February 1948 and by that time a large influx of Muslims had came from Bihar and other places from India to Sindh and that was the cause of great tension because they wanted Hindu properties.

“In February, when I was arguing a case in the Magistrate’s court, my Pathan driver came in and said that the locality where I was living was in danger. I found on the way back that nobody was being hurt physically, but preparations had been made to rob all the property by new comers from India, to create fear and force Hindus to migrate. That is exactly what happened.”

He said his partner during his practice in Karachi was a secular Sindhi Muslim gentleman and a great scholar – A. K. Brohi, who later piloted the first Constitution of Pakistan. “Seeing the incidents of February 1948, Ram Jethmalani said that he could no longer bear the responsibility of my safety. Then I left and settled down in Bombay and started practice.”

You Tube Link

Blasphemy Law: Mullahs fighting each other for political gains

Blasphemy Law: Mullahs fighting each other for political gains (2 JI) – Wichaar Analysis

The prime mover of TNR is Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), the mother of most theocratic and extremist religious trends. JI is another case of fake contender of ideology of Pakistan. The party opposed the creation of Pakistan tooth and nail and issued fatwas against Mohammad Ali Jinnah. By the way it got foothold in Punjab courtesy of Allama Mohammad Iqbal. A landlord Chauhdry Barkat Ali had asked Allama Iqbal to recommend a suitable Islamic organization who can take his estate in Pathankot. Allama Iqbal recommended Maulana Maudodi and this is how JI expanded its base in Punjab. This one of the reason that I feel that JI cadres and Taliban are Iqbal’s ‘Shaheens.’

Presently, JI is competing for influence for itself but that is its secondary goal versus Fazalur Rehman whose main goal is political power. For JI, TNR is a vehicle to keep religious parties united and to slowly dismantle what is left of the secular institutions of the state. Taliban and other jihadi groups very well fit in its strategy to undo the system. Therefore, while Taliban and other jihadis keep the state engaged with guns JI provides a political cover to them. …

Read more : Wichaar

Democracy, the god of our age

by Razib Khan

I have a post up at Secular Right which expresses some cynical skepticism about the popular revolutions in North Africa. I’m especially skeptical of Egypt, though I would be happy to be proven wrong by history. Democratic governance is better than the alternatives, all things equal, but all things are not equal. Tunisia is in many ways a more “Western” society than Egypt, so I have more hope that a conventional Western form of governance in liberal democratic form will emerge there. Additionally, unlike Egypt Tunisia has no minorities to oppress.

Because of the power of democratically in the American mind we often can’t conceive of the possibility that populism abroad may not shake out in a direction conducive to our own “national interests.” Or, further other values which we putatively cherish, such as individual liberty and tolerance of dissent and diversity. But it is no coincidence that we were founded a republic, and not a democracy.

Courtesy: http://www.brownpundits.com/2011/01/28/democracy-the-god-of-our-age/

Must watch : Interesting and factful story of Pakistan

Achievements & Disappointments of Pakistan. The language of discussion is urdu/ Hindi.

Courtesy: Dunya TV (Tonight with Najam Sethi-23-03-2010-1) – You Tube Link

Extremist Intimidation Chills Pakistan Secular Society

by Julie McCarthy

In Pakistan, a battle has been joined by those who want a tolerant Islamic state against those who want a fundamentalist religious regime.

The killing in Pakistan earlier this month of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer has cheered the religious right while chilling secular Pakistanis and exposing deep fissures in the society.

The governor was gunned down in Islamabad by a bodyguard angered at his bid to relax the country’s blasphemy laws. The assassination of Taseer, an audacious advocate for modernism, revealed the conservative attitudes about Islam that are sweeping through Pakistan. …

Read more : NPR

Pakistan awaiting the clerical tsunami: Pervez Hoodbhoy

by Farooq Sulehria

Taseer’s assassin is a Barelvi Muslim belonging to the Dawat-e-Islami, and 500 clerics of this faith supported his action. Most of these mullahs are part of the Sunni Tehreek and are supposedly anti-Taliban moderates. Those who claim that Pakistan’s silent majority is fundamentally secular and tolerant may be clutching at straws …

Read more : ViewPoint

Civilian and military atrocities on Baloch people

A Page from the Past – By Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Who was an active member of the Balochistan Resistance in the 70s. He recently returned to Pakistan after a 10-year long exile in Afghanistan.

In keeping with the Pakistani tradition of camouflaging history a vital chunk of the country’s past has been shrouded in mystery for over 20 years. This was the period of 1973-1977, when the Baloch rose in revolt against a state that had relentlessly oppressed them for decades and military operations against the Baloch people were at their peak. …

Read more : Baloch Voice

GM Syed’s birth anniversary today

KARACHI – The sleepy town of Sann in Dadu district lights up twice every year for GM Syed, the founder of the Sindhi nationalist movement – on January 17 for his birth anniversary and in April for his death anniversary.

While Syed and his followers are branded as traitors now in the mainstream narrative on account of their demand for an independent Sindh, few are aware of the fact that in 1940, as then-Sindh education minister, Syed was the first person from the Muslim League to table the Pakistan Resolution. As such, the Sindh Assembly was the first to demand the creation of Pakistan in as many words. He later dissociated himself from the party over disagreements with the leadership, including Muhammed Ali Jinnah.

Disillusioned eventually with what he referred to as the hegemony of certain ethnicities and classes over the polity of the newly-formed country, Syed distanced himself from the idea of Pakistan, and thus began a movement for the ‘independence’ of Sindh. Today, if one goes by the sheer number of people who visit Sann every year to pay homage to him, one would understand how much currency GM Syed’s ideology that combines nationalism with communism and Sufism has in Sindh. He also warned followers against sectarianism, and preached international peace and harmony: begin with your homeland and liberate it; then liberate the rest of the country; and then spread your ideas to the rest of the world, he said. …

Read more : Pakistan Today

The Empire Without Clothes – by Waris Husain

WITHOUT DEVELOPING A SECULAR AND TOLERANT STATE IDENTITY THAT CAN PROVIDE EQUAL PROTECTION TO ALL ITS CITIZENS REGARDLESS OF THEIR BACKGROUND, INCIDENTS LIKE THE ASSASSINATION OF GOV. TASEER WILL BECOME COMMON-PLACE.

However, the inability of the general public to see the nakedness of Pakistan is due to the inter-generational brainwashing towards conservative orthodoxy.

The heinous murder of Governor Taseer was shocking, but one should consider the reactions in support of his assassin amongst some Pakistanis as a sign that the society is at a crossroads. Governor Taseer’s life was stolen from him because he rejected a blasphemy law based on a narrow-minded view of Islam that subjects the nation’s minorities to discrimination. Laws such as these reveal the increasingly conflicting view of Pakistan’s future: either as a nation that is able to adapt to modern times and protect the rights of all its citizens or one destined for devolution into chaos through a medieval view of Islam and the state. …

Read more : SOVEREIGN MINDS

Taseer — Champion of Secular Democracy

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

The ghastly assassination of Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer is a great loss for the Pakistani nation, Pakistan People’s Party, President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and the government. He was brave, courageous and daring—a great man who spoke for the rights of the people including minorities. He was totally committed to the high democratic ideals and the egalitarian vision of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and martyred Benazir Bhutto.

Salman was held in highest esteem by the people who respected his boldness to proclaim loud and clear that he believed in liberal and secular politics. He was targeted for elimination for having defended the rights of minorities against the black and discriminatory laws introduced by dictator General Ziaul Haq to terrorise the people into submission to his totalitarian rule. …

Read more : PakMission-UK